Are you concerned about your dog’s weight? Well, typically we adore fat dogs, and they may win us over with their charm, but unknown to some, those extra pounds may hurt the dog’s back, may result in heart problems, lead to expensive vet bills, make the dog less active or even worse – shorten its life if it develops an illness such as arthritis or diabetes.
So, if you have realized your dog is becoming overweight or are just curious how a dog becomes that way, let’s take a look at the top reasons a dog is packing on the pounds.
1. Food Rich in Calories
Food rich in calories contribute a lot to increased weight because calorie intake should be based on the size of your dog, age, and level of activity. A small dog will only need between 200 to 400 calories daily, while larger dogs over 65 pounds will need between 1,000 to 2,000 calories. Always check the calories in your dog’s food and make sure it’s not eating too much. Refer to this simple chart for more information.
2. The Lack of Exercise
Exercise is vital for the well-being of your dog, and the right amount of exercise depends on your dog breed, size, and age. Small dogs will be good with 20 to 30 minutes of exercise daily, and this should go up with the weight. Not giving your dog enough exercise will often increase the dog’s weight because its body will convert its energy to fat.
3. Your Dog’s Age
Typically, your dog will become less active with age, and with it, comes the issue of accumulated fat. As your dog gets older, you must pay close attention to its calorie intake and check with a local vet to ensure it doesn’t get into “fat dog” category.
4. Does Your Dog Have Hypothyroidism?
This is a disease that attacks dogs when they are about 4 to 6 years old. Weight gain is one of the common symptoms, so it is good to have a local vet check your dog if you feel it’s not the diet causing the problem. You can read more about this disease here.
This is the most common type of arthritis in dogs, and it is mainly caused by wearing down the cartilage in the joints. When the joints lead to reduced activity, their weight can go up because of it.
Genes play a significant role in determining the size of your dog, and some breeds may be more prone to gain weight easier than others. Some of these breeds include beagles, Labrador retrievers, and basset hounds.
7. Hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing Disease
This condition is caused by the dog’s adrenal glands overproducing the cortisol hormone, and one common symptom is an increased appetite. This disease may cause your dog to increase weight and even be less tolerant of exercise. You can read more about this disease here.
8. Physical Injury
Anything that affects your dog’s level of activity will subsequently affect its weight. If your dog has any sort of physical injury, you may realize it has difficulty time climbing stairs or playing around, which can lead to a lot of inactivity. While you don’t want to force the exercise, especially if the vet wants to limit it, you will want to pay close attention to the diet.
In the middle of your dog’s pregnancy, typically its appetite will increase and start to gain a lot of weight, which of course, is normal. Even though the pregnancy can seem obvious, some often are completely unaware their dog is expecting.
If your dog is on any sort of medication, be sure to check out the side effects to see if weight gain is one of them. Just like prescriptions for us humans, some drugs can lead to weight gain, especially if they are taken for long periods.
Internal parasites like to lodge themselves in your dog’s intestines and abdominal walls, and because of this, fluid often builds up around the area that’s infested, leading to a “bloated” or “potbelly” appearance.
12. Eating Too Fast
Does your dog literally inhale its food when eating? If your dog “wolfs down” its food without even tasting or chewing, it could be taking in a lot of air in the process. With this large amount of air, the stomach will be filled with unchewed food and air, leading to a condition known as gastric dilatation. This condition is often seen in deep-chested breeds such as Poodles and German Shepherds.
If You Feel Your Dog Is at an Unhealthy Weight, Here’s What You Can Do:
1. Change Its Diet. Start measuring your dog’s food and make sure it’s receiving the right amount of calories. Refrain from treats and table scraps.
2. Start being more active with your dog. This can include dog walking or running around in a confined area. Try to shoot for 15 to 20 minutes each day.
3. Lastly, check with a vet. If you feel you’re sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routing, you may want to check with your local vet to eliminate any potential diseases.
Stephanie Lynch is from the cost-helping database Howmuchisit.org. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her children, reading, hiking and traveling with her husband.